Chandrayaan-2 launch on July 15: ISRO

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The spacecraft, with a mass of 3.8 tonne, has three modules - Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan).

Nellore: Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairman Dr K. Sivan on Wednesday said that the launch of Chandrayaan-2 onboard GSLV MkIII-M1 is planned for July 15 at 2.51 am from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Shar, Sriharikota.

"The day we are going to land is either September 6 or September 7, that day happens to be the beginning of a lunar day. We had slipped many times but now it will be launched on July 15 at 2.51 am", he told a press conference. Two Chandrayaan modules - an orbiter and a lander - will be stacked together inside a launch vehicle equipped to lift heavy satellites into orbit.

After the launch into an earth-bound orbit by GSLV MK-III, the integrated module would reach the Moon orbit using the orbiter propulsion module, and subsequently, the lander would separate from the orbiter and soft-land at the predetermined site, close to the lunar South Pole.

Sivan said they expect Chandrayaan to attempt landing on the lunar surface on September 6 or September 7. "Instruments are also mounted on Lander and Orbiter for carrying out scientific experiments", said ISRO.

India had been competing against Israel to become the fourth country ever to achieve a soft landing on the moon, and had been in danger of losing out. After four more days, the lander will land in a hard manouevre that lasts 15 minutes.

Stating that Chandrayaan-2 will mainly be about planetary exploration missions, Sivan said, "We are in the same position (scientist) Vikram Sarabhai was 50 years ago when he was asked why India needed a space programme".

"From the science point of view, the south pole is under shadow region more than North Pole, so because of this special aspect of south pole, water is expected to be more there and also more minerals are expected to be there", he added.

Chandrayaan-2 had been due to launch in April 2018 but damage suffered by one of the legs of Vikram during testing pushed that back. These are meant to increase the spacecraft's velocity to change its orbit from circular low Earth orbit to reach the vicinity of moon.

From the time of Lander landing on the surface to theRover to come out and land on the surface will take four hours, according to him. Rover is housed inside Lander. However the orbiter will revolve around the moon for a one year period. When the mission had originally been approved in 2008, the cost was Rs 425 crore, excluding the launch costs and cost of the lander.

Upon launch, the GSLV rocket will travel east for 15 minutes and release the spacecraft into an eccentric orbit of 178 x 38,000 km. The rover wheels sport symbols: The Ashoka chakra on one side and ISRO's logo on the other.

Its first mission, Chandrayaan-1 which launched in 2008, was an orbiter and did not actually land on the surface of the Moon.

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